Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Arduinna (August 2012)

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Interviews by Fans
Title: Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Arduinna
Interviewer: Lisa Cronin
Interviewee: Arduinna
Date(s): August 4, 2012
Medium: audio, print transcript
Fandom(s):
External Links: Fiction Oral History Project with Arduinna
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Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Arduinna was conducted in August 2012 by Lisa Cronin and archived at the University of Iowa Libraries.

This interview's medium is audio (length: 1:30:25), and it has a written 49-page transcript.

It was part of the series: Fan Fiction Oral History Project also referred to as "a Fiction and Internet Memory Research Project," "the Fiction and Internet Memory Program," and "Fan Fiction and Internet Memory."

Another interview with Arduinna for this project is Fan Fiction Oral History Project with Arduinna (September 2012).

The interviews conducted for this project were used for the book by Abigail De Kosnik called Rogue Archives: Digital Cultural Memory and Media Fandom.

Some Topics Discussed

Excerpts

I was over eighteen, but not by much. I was at a—probably at a BosCon, and I was in the dealers' room. Not the—not the, not the huckster's room, not the big huckster's room, but I was—individual dealers, individual room—she was selling out of a hotel room, and she had all sorts of fan zines. (laughs) And that was the first time I ever discovered fan fiction. And that was actually also the first time I ever discovered slash, so. The zines all looked very interesting, and then I found the box of slash zines, and I probably looked fifteen because the dealer came leaping across the room to say, "Do you know what that slash on the box means?" (laughs) And then "Here's what it means," and I said, "Here's all my lunch money for the rest of the convention. How many will this get me?" (laughs) And I bought as many zines as I could buy with all my food money. So. So that was my introduction to fan fiction….I don't think I bought any gen zines. I think I put everything on slash zines and they were all Star. They were all Kirk/Spock. And this would've been—oh, mid '80s? Like '85 or so? So it was—yeah. Mostly though the big slash fandom then that I had access to was Star Trek. And those were—. She never came back to the convention ever again, but I could find and I didn't dare order any zines through the mail, even though they were addresses anywhere because I was living at home and school, and I didn't want anyone finding these sexy gay zines (laughs) so I didn't order anything. So that was it until I got online in, like, 1994 and discovered fandom online. Which was, Yay!
[FORKNI-L] was entire mailing list full of people who were talking about nothing but Forever Knight on it. (laughs) It was amazing. Everyone was smart, and everyone said cool things, and people had always different opinions. It was fantastic. And there was an associated fiction list that I found out about once I joined the main list. So I joined that. And then a couple of months later, I found out that there was an erotica list, called Jadfe, J-a-d-f-e which stood for "James and Dark Angels Forever Erotica." (laughs) Because back in the day, people used to try to have clever names, because everything had to be eight letters or less. So I joined that, and it was great. The fiction just came pouring into your inbox, and you could read everything. It all came to the same place, and everyone was posting to the same place. So everything was all mixed up. You'd get different characters, and different pairings, and different whatever. And there was some really amazing fiction being written. And it was great. And that is actually what caused me to get a home computer because within like—I don't know, a year or two—I stayed just at work for a very long time, because home computers were so expensive. But, finally, I looked at the erotica that was coming into my work e-mail account, and realized, I don't want people to, like ... (laughs) I was feeling like, I think I need my own setup, so I went out and I bought a computer, specifically to read Forever Knight erotica…. Or at that point, it was probably also Highlander and Due South, but yeah, it was basically so I could read fanfic porn.
I made tons of friends [on mailing lists]. It was interesting. It was ... The rules were ... In the explicit rules, I mean, every list you got on told you, you know, "Lurk for thirty days before you say anything." And it's just—it's the smart thing to do. And people mostly did. And you could tell when someone didn't, because they would go barging in and say something that sort of didn't work in the context of the list culture. You know, they would— might even be insulting, but they would ask questions that would've been obvious if they had just sort of hung around for a couple of days and read what people were saying, or whatever. And if you hung around for a month, it was really good training, because you found out who the regular posters were, who had the best information about, stuff—because, again, the web didn't work very well. (laughs) It just—. There wasn't information there to search for. Search engines weren't very good. They all worked off indexes. They didn't do spidering the web to, like ... They didn't crawl the web to get information. They did indexes; they had, like, lists of directories of sites that they knew about. So you could find things, but you had to be willing to actually really, really look. And you had to be really good at figuring out what search engine you needed for what, and what keywords you needed for what. So people who had information who knew where to find things and knew what they were talking about were very useful. You could find out sort of who, who liked what about the show, so you could figure out what opinions mattered to you, you know?
Well, one of the things that actually stopped me was the shift to LiveJournal. I don't like LiveJournal. I've never liked LiveJournal, the way it's set up, I don't like anything about it. Dreamwidth ... I don't know why Dreamwidth is easier for me, but it is. But I didn't like the fact that people were ... That you had to go hunting for stories and individual journals. And people could lock them, and people could edit them after they were posted. I have come to accept that, but when I started out, people wrote their stories, and edited them, and finished them before they sent them out into the world, because once you sent them out, that was it. And the notion that you could read a story, and then a day later, the author could go in edit it drastically so it was a different story was really maddening to me. It's like, I want to read the story. I don't want to read the story twenty times to get twenty different versions of it. So I'm still not keen on people who post WIPs and then go back and rewrite the earlier chapters to match what they do later. I'm like, Write the story, then post it.
[Person of Interest] a great little show. It's full of clams; it's terrific. But it's small. It's a small fandom. And on Dreamwidth, it's hard to find anything. And I suspect it's hard on LiveJournal as well. I mean, there's a couple of fic communities, and there's a couplet of discussion communities, but it's like ... It's really hard to find who's talking about it unless you're willing to actively search every day and see if anyone's talking about Person of Interest today? And I'm kind of not willing to put in that much constant, grinding work just to find someone who said something about the show. Which is why for years, I've sort of, I've missed a lot of fannish conversation, because I'm not prepared to sit there and search every single day to see if someone said something. But on Tumblr, I click on my Person of Interest tag and there's, you know, a few dozen regular posters. And they post fan art, and they post quotes, and they post games, and they have a chat that they've set up. They call themselves the Irrelevants, which is a term that comes from the show. And they literally, they do a chat every week, and if they see new people posting on the Person of Interest, one of them will post "Hey, we see there's new people on the tag. Here's ... We do a chat every week. Come to the chat." And it's like—for something that's supposed to be non-social and non-interactive, this is a fandom that's formed a little community on Tumblr.
Fandoms have vanished. Some of them, because they were mainly zine fandoms, but never quite made the jump to online, so they sort of don't exist anymore. The big old fandoms, Star Trek, and Pros, and Starsky and Hutch, and Man from U.N.C.L.E. all made the leap online, so they're all still going. Even Blake's 7 is still going, in small form. But a couple of others, like Equalizer, was really actually a pretty big zine fandom, all things considered, and I don't think it ever made it online. I don't think there's more than half a dozen Equalizer stories on the net right now. And I could be wrong, there could be a little secret store of them somewhere, but. And there was Kung Fu: The Legend Continues in the '90s, which was actually a big online fandom. I mean, for the day, it was pretty big. It was largely a gen fandom, but it had mailing lists, and an archive that went with the mailing list, and everyone kind of knew about it, and it's basically vanished. Because the mailing lists were shut down, and the fanfic archives that went with them vanished with them. And there's like they have ... People only archived their stuff in that one place, and now you can't—you can't find anything anymore. And it vanished so completely. It vanished without a ripple.

I think everything that people write, and draw, and vid, and talk about is part of an ongoing, endless fannish conversation, and it sort of sucks to lose one of the voices in that, so. I'm not a hugely emotional person, though. So I think that, What're your emotions about this, it's like, Well; okay. I don't cry, but I regret it. It's just—it's a shame. It's a pity. And especially if it's, if it's something that was really popular, that people would've kept reading for years. And I know, I've met some people who will post a story and then—you know, post a story publicly and within like a year, they'll lock it down to private. And I don't understand that at all.

[snipped]

It's one of the things that I don't like: fanfic being locked after it's been public. Because there are links out there. And there's really kind of nothing worse than clicking a link to a story and being told, "You're not special enough to see this story now. You don't have the right to see this story, even though other people have the right to see it." But yeah, the notion that there's—that once something is six months old, it's already old hat. It's like, It's only old hat for people who saw it six months ago.
There were a few internal fights in the fandom that were actually pretty severe. There was a gigantic religious war in 1995—I think it was 1995—where the list owner, who was ... The woman who took over as list owner of the big list at the time, D-SOUTH-L, was very Catholic, and decided that since Ray Vecchio was Catholic, he would observe the same language restrictions that she observed as a practicing Catholic. And announced that Ray Vecchio would not swear, say "hell," or "damn," or "Jesus," or—or anything like that. And the rest of the list looked at—You would think that this was an American; this was an Australian. And we're all like, "How can an Australian be this crazy? This is American crazy." And you're just, "What? What!?" Because he would canonically say things on the show, that she was saying you were not allowed to say in fanfic. You were not allowed to have him say in fanfic. And people went out of their minds with rage about this, and it was like, "What are you talking about?" And a whole lot of—well, not a whole lot, but there were some stories that got written where suddenly, you had a lot of Hispanic characters named Jesus. (laughs) But because he could say, "Hey, Jesus!" And she couldn't object to it.
I was in the Vecchio camp of the Ray Wars. I'm still in the Vecchio camp of the Ray Wars, because I still feel like that was a, just the ... It was really crappy. And we were ... I, at least, was trying to adapt. I mean, I watched most of the next season. Because it's like, I like the show, and I'm really sad that Vecchio's not here, but that doesn't mean the show is going to suck. And as it happened, I didn't like the entire way that the next season went. I didn't like what happened to most of the characters' personalities, I didn't like the writing, I didn't like a lot of it, so I stopped watching. But Callum Keith Rennie was already—he already had a fan base, and a lot of those fans came in thinking he was great. And a lot of other fans who didn't know him, and just started watching that season, and really liked him a lot. And some people who'd watched the first couple seasons wound up liking him better. There was one very popular author who was all, "Yay, I like Rennie's Vecchio; I like Kowalski better, and I'm going to write him now." Which all would've been salvageable, I think, except people got their knickers in a twist. I'll be as even-handed as I can; people got their knickers in a twist on both sides. But I will say, from my end of things, it was kind of rough having people who hadn't sat through the first two [seasons] — who hadn't watched the first two years; they'd never seen the first two seasons — come in, and basically start trash talking Vecchio and Fraser's relationship with him. And it got more vitriol as time when on, and people started reacting, and reacting to other peoples' reacting, and it got kind of bad. So. Yeah. One day, I might be able to write up my view of what happened there, but it's like, Okay. It's just like ... But it's over now. (laughs) I still think that, you know, they should have behaved better. But they think that, they probably think that I should have behaved better, so.
Part of it was probably the magic— in Due South specifically, it was probably the magical realism of it. It was ... It was ... And the writing in the first two years was stellar in a lot of sort of interesting, subtle ways. And the relationship between the leads. Mainly it's the relationship between the characters that gets me. And what I prefer is a relationship that is not being aimed specifically at fandom. I prefer just the powers that be are not sitting there saying, "Oh, we know fans like this; we'll do this." … that's actually partly why I vastly prefer the relationship between Fraser and Vecchio, because they weren't ... It was what was coming through the acting and the writing and the actual relationship between these characters. Where in the third season, they knew about fans, they knew about slash, and they were throwing a lot of jokey things in to appeal to the slash base. And that just makes me uncomfortable. And it's like, I don't want to be interacting with the powers that be. I want to be watching this. The characters.

References